I was at school 40 years ago when the USA Apollo 11 programme managed to put the first man on the moon with less processing power than my mobile phone. I was entranced by the whole adventure and have been fascinated by the space race ever since. I read today in The Church of England Newspaper that astronaut Buzz Aldrin shared Holy Communion in thanks for a safe flight and was inspired to write our verses from Psalm 8 as he stared into the blackness of space from the lunar surface. The following are the only bible verses to be written and left on the moon:
A psalm of David.
1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise [b]
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
Filed under bible, God, space
Teenagers say family, friends, money, music and even reality television are more important than religion according to a recent survey of a 1,000 13-18 year-olds by Penguin books undertaken to mark the publication of Kevin Brooks’ novel Killing God. What have we done when six out of ten 10 children (59 per cent) believe that religion “has a negative influence on the world”?
The survey also shows that half of teenagers have never prayed and 16 per cent have never been to church. The controversial new book is about a 15-year-old girl who questions the existence of God. Kevin Brooks, the author, said: “I can’t say I am surprised by the teenagers’ responses. “Part of the reason that I wrote Killing God was that I wanted to explore the personal attitudes of young people today, especially those with troubled lives, towards organised religion and the traditional concept of God. “How can the moralities of an ancient religion relate to the tragedies and disorders of today’s broken world? And why do some people turn to God for help while others take comfort in drugs and alcohol? “These are just some of the questions I wanted to consider… And I wasn’t looking for answers.” The research also found 55 per cent of young people are not bothered about religion and 60 per cent only go to church for a wedding or christening. Only three out of 10 teenagers believe in an afterlife and 41 per cent believe that nothing happens to your body when you die, but one in 10 reckon they come back as an animal or another human being.
A the Church of England is looking to cut its budget for youth mission work a spokesman said: “Many teenagers aren’t sure what they believe at that stage of their lives, as is clear from the number who said they don’t know whether they believe in God. “On the other hand many of these results point to the great spirituality of young people today that the Church is seeking to respond to through new forms of worship alongside tradition ones.”
Today a new site Make Jesus Famous is launched- http://www.makejesusfamous.org.uk/. Let’s help it generate the ideas, commitment and inspiration to reach out to to those who really don’t know or care about Christ. Let’s give them a message of hope, new life, love and transformation. Let’s be the miracle to them.
For the full article on this story see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/5603096/Two-thirds-of-teenagers-dont-believe-in-God.html
Jewish Christian Steve Maltz the author of ‘How the church lost the way’– is passionate about how the roots of our faith have been damaged by the influence of Greek philosophy and culture. He suggests that the church needs to recover its roots if it is ever to fulfil its destiny, and see true and sustained revival. He makes some interesting arguments, but one thing I certainly agree with him on is his passion for the church to break out more and have a real impact on our culture, right here and now. Steve makes the point well in this passage from the chapter Redoing Religion:
” The question I now ask is, if we follow such a big God why do we cram Him into such a small box? We should let Him loose, let Him roam freely, let Him act according to His awesome nature. Of course He already does, but we act as if He lived just in ancient buildings, sports halls on a Sunday hire, or in front rooms swept clean of profane literature and embarrassing relatives…God doesn’t just live in church buildings for a couple of hours every Sunday. For a start nowhere in the bible is Church ever meant to be a building. It was the Greek Church fathers who changed things, leading to an idea that any expression of Christianity is best confined to a meeting place rather than the people who meet there. Whereas Jesus tells us to go out into the world to preach His Gospel, we have ending up telling the world to come into Church, to find Jesus there. And what does the world really find when it goes there?”
This morning I am off to talk to a group of Christians meeting in a hired-community centre who want to have their own Church building..interesting.
My earlier blog about Steve’s work can be found at https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/losing-our-way/
I only ever recall meeting my father twice. The third occasion I was in his company was at his funeral.
The Church of England is making a bid to put God into Fathers’ Day with a prayer for children to include in their cards today.The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Rev John Inge, said, “Let’s celebrate Fathers’ Day in our churches, honouring those fathers who have shown us something of God’s love, praying for fathers to be given strength in their crucial role and remembering that God, who is our Father in heaven, loves us more than we can grasp.”
Children ‘lost for words’ this Fathers’ Day are encouraged to paste or write in their cards a prayer specially written for the occasion, thanking dads for their love and support and asking God to support and guide them. “I have always believed in my head,” said Bishop John, “that God loves me unconditionally but it was only when I became a father myself that I began to understand it with my heart.”
The prayer is backed up by a new page on http://www.cofe.anglican.org with more prayer material. Churches are offered: a sample service to customise for Fathers’ Day; a podcast in which Bishop John explains how becoming a father gave him a new understanding of God’s unconditional love; and a link provides a gateway to the WhatDadsAdd website created by the Church or England and the Mothers’ Union. “I have never known a love quite like the love of being a father and I rejoice in the great gift of fatherhood,” said Bishop John Inge. “I rejoice in it because of my children, to whom I am devoted. But I also rejoice in it because it helps me to understand more profoundly how God loves me, and how nothing can separate me from that love.”
I didn’t really know my natural father but am grateful for the love of a father God. I echo this prayer this Fathers’ day and hope my children will pray it for me, and that they will have a more positive memory of me than I have of my own father. Thanks to Bishop John for reminding us of the role of fathers on this special day.
I thank God for all the love and support you offer me, and I ask for God’s blessing on you this Father’s day: may God our heavenly Father keep you in his care, support and guide you each day and help you grow in love and wisdom. through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A couple of weeks ago I posted about the Baptist Times report of the murder of homeless Ralph Millward see https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/this-is-the-big-issue/#comments . Last week this post was made on my blog from a relative of one of the boys charged with Ralph’s murder.
“I’d like to say that i am disgusted by his actions. Many look for excuses everywhere when the young kill. I will not. I am shocked by the brutality of Ralph’s murder and i will never make excuses for him. He is not my child but his family need to look to themselves for his actions and not try to blame anything they can. There is no excuse for taking a life, particularly, a life that was so defenceless. My thoughts are with Ralph’s family and not with my young relative charged with his murder. I will never forget Ralph in my own prayers. His murderers deserve nothing. I know the details of how Ralph died and i will never forget them. The only consolation for Ralph is that his brutal death may make our country wake up to the plight of the homeless and help more. If no-one else will say it in my family, then i will. I am very very sorry for the actions my young relative took that night. No excuses. R.I.P. Ralph Millward.”
I think this is an incredibly brave and honest post and pray that the person will come to see that the murderes may in our terms deserve nothing, but more than anything they need to encounter the grace, love and forgiveness of the God of justice for the exluded and vulnerable. Love is stronger than hate.
Today is Trinity Sunday when the Christian Church has a focus on how God has reveled himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is a sticking point of Christian doctrine that prevents many engaging fully with the faith- they simply can’t get their head around this glorious mystery. How can one person become three and why and where and when? I am not a learned theologian and have not answers to this mystery that will give doubters the answer that they seek- it simply doesn’t make logical sense- but that doesn’t make it any less real does it? As Nick Fawcett writes in his prayer for Trinity Sunday in Daily Prayer:
“It reminds us of a truth we cannot afford to forget: that God is beyond the human intellect, defying expression, greater than we can ever conceive. We cannot explain how the pieces fit together but we know that they do, for we have experienced the truth ourselves. If we imagine that we have solved the mystery and that the full wonder of God is firmly in our sights, then it is time to think again, for if we ever think that, then the truth is that we have lost sight of him altogether. Sovereign God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. teach me to live with mystery, and simply to celebrate each day my many experiences of your love. Amen.”
So God not one person but a community of persons made one through their mutual love. The mystics and theologians have speculated long and abstractly on these matters, and we continue to do so until God settles the issue. In the meantime lets draw meaning and inspiration and give thanks by using the words of the peace for Trinity Sunday:
Peace be to you from God our heavenly Father. Peace from his Son Jesus Christ who is our peace. Peace from the Holy Spirit, the life-giver. The peace of the triune God be always with you. And we continue to give you thanks because you have revealed the glory of your eternal fellowship of love with your Son and with the Holy Spirit three persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendour, yet one God ever to be worshipped and adored.
May you discover peace, comfort and inspiration this Trinity Sunday and see more of the glorious oneness of love, mystery and hope.
The Mirror Newspaper reported this week that a quarter of 11 to 16-year-old Britons cannot recall ANY of the Ten Commandments, according to a recent poll. Apparently just one in 17 adults and teenagers could recite all 10. And many were left baffled by the language of the Old Testament rules. Most of the 1,000 questioned for the survey commissioned by computer game makers Electronic Arts said there should be modern commandments such as “protect the planet”.
A few years ago the Methodist Church and Ship of Fools ran a competition to find a new 11th commandment and the winners suggested the following:The 11th Commandment initiative was designed by The Methodist Church’s 20s and 30s Group, and seeks to reach out to the “missing generation” of under-40s to discover what matters to them and what they think about God.In the current climate a few MPs made their own suggestion- “Thou shalt not get found out!”
Thou shalt not worship false pop idols
Thou shalt not kill in the name of any god
Thou shalt not confuse text with love
Thou shalt not consume thine own body weight in fudge
Thou shalt not be negative
Among the runners-up were: Thou shalt not…
… dump your lover by text… covet thy neighbour’s iPod… dance like your dad… marry unless truly in love… change allegiance if your football team is relegated… hold loud conversations on thy mobile in a public place… condemn thy neighbour for having different beliefs… use faith to hide from reality… use plastic to multiply your possessions… shrink-wrap cucumbers… pretend to have no change when asked to donate to charity.
And also: Thou shalt…
… commit random acts of kindness… respect the earth… indicate at roundabouts… smile at the person opposite.
The overall winner, Andrew Shaw, 21, a student from Essex, thought it had been “a good idea to take the discussion into pubs”. His commandment, “Thou shalt not worship false pop idols”, is particularly topical. “Celebrities are the golden calves of today,” he said. “They do not serve any purpose other than to be idolized”.